A top court in the United Arab Emirates ruled yesterday that under Islamic law, a man has the right to beat his wife and children as long as no marks are left and he has tried other forms of discipline, such as verbal reprimands or abstaining from sexual intercourse.
CNN reports the ruling came from a case in which a man slapped his wife and 23 year old daughter, resulting in marks and bruises on their bodies. Though the court maintained the man’s right under Shari’a law to beat his wife and children, it ruled that in this case the man exceeded his authority by beating his wife too severely.
After news of the ruling, Human Rights Watch called on the government to repeal all discriminatory laws, including any that sanction domestic violence. Nadya Khalife, Middle East women’s rights researcher at Human Rights Watch said, “This ruling by the UAE’s highest court is evidence that the authorities consider violence against women and children to be completely inacceptable…Domestic violence should never be tolerated under any circumstances. These provisions are blatantly demeaning to women and pose serious risks to their well-being.”
According to CNN, several experts said it is against Islamic law to permit wife-beating; however, Shari’a law is complex and lends itself to multiple and competing interpretations.